8 Small-Deck Ideas for Maximizing Your Outdoor Space

Create a cozy oasis—no matter how tiny your space—with these small-deck plans that provide plenty of room for dining, entertaining, and relaxing.

Maybe your lot is smaller than you'd like, making it a challenge to include gardens or a deck. Perhaps your yard is awkwardly arranged, leaving little room for entertaining. Or maybe you have plenty of flowerbeds but little leftover space for an outdoor table and chairs. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself with big-deck dreams but small-deck constraints, we've got advice for optimizing the space you have. Rethink your square footage with small-deck design ideas that make the most of your home's yard.

patio with gray deck, light wooden wall, white ceiling
Jason Donnelly

1. Evaluate your needs.

Your lifestyle can and should play a part in any small-deck ideas. So before you start planning construction, think about how you currently use your outdoor space and how you'd like to use it. For example, if you regularly gather family and friends for meals, you'll want to maximize the deck area for seating and include a spot for a grill. But if you have a large lawn for playing and relaxing, a deck might serve a different purpose in your daily life, such as a spot to read the paper.

sunny deck with light wood and green accents
Peter Krumhardt

2. Maintain the proper scale.

Before you begin sorting through small-deck designs, think about scale. Your deck should maintain consistent proportion to the yard and your home. Too small or too big, and either the landscape or the deck will feel overwhelming.

outdoor patio furniture set on wooden deck
Kimberly Gavin

3. Establish a connection between the house, deck, and yard.

A design that looks out of place with its surroundings can make a small deck look awkward. One of the keys to successful small-deck design ideas is ensuring that the materials, style, and shape feel in sync with your home and your landscape. You'll also want to use small-deck ideas that encourage an efficient, natural flow between the inside and outside. For example, if doors to your kitchen lead to a side yard, that unexpected spot might be the best place for a small deck.

4. Think in levels and curves.

Often, homeowners let difficult yard situations, such as an awkward slope, discourage them from including a small deck. But even in a minuscule yard or space, decks can be a great way to conquer those landscape challenges. For example, a stepped-down small-deck idea can provide multiple levels for gathering, serve different functions, and help you eliminate grass that never grows or cover a slope that constantly erodes. A curved design might help you squeeze a few extra square feet (as well as a secluded nook) out of a tiny landscape.

patio furniture and green cushions on deck beneath arbor
Kritsada Panichgul

5. Provide visual relief.

Small-deck ideas and layouts have less space to distract the eye, so the details take on heightened significance. Think overhead, on the sides, and underfoot. Try an arbor to create a cozier structure (and provide support for flowering vines). Creative rails offer visual relief, as do rail planters and metal accents. A deck floor in a pattern such as a basket weave or one set on a diagonal creates interest.

6. Build storage.

Just because your deck is small doesn't mean it shouldn't work hard. Much like shelves, hooks, and drawers in the tiniest linen closet, there are multiple ways to put your small-deck design to work. Think of built-in seating with lids that flip up to hide outdoor cushions and toys. If your small deck is elevated, try hidden storage underneath for seasonal furniture.

succulents in pot red stained deck
Edmund Barr

7. Include plants and landscaping.

Whether in containers or between the small deck and the rest of your landscape, flowers, trees, and shrubs are key to melding the deck with the yard. Use small shrubs to disguise footings, posts, and corners. Trees offer shade and privacy, and flowers connect with gardens in the yard.

outdoor seating painted striped deck privacy screen basket lights
John Bessler

8. Finish it with details.

Just because your deck is small doesn't mean you should pay less attention to the final flourishes. Plan for convenient electrical outlets. Choose complementary fabrics and furniture that enhance the design of the small deck and your outdoor living space. Do what you can to create a space that feels comfortable and welcoming.

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